May 2, 2006

Plane crashes off Russian coast

MOSCOW (Reuters) - An Armenian aircraft carrying about 100
people on a flight from Yerevan to the Russian seaside resort
of Sochi crashed into the Black Sea early on Wednesday, the
emergencies ministry said.

A ministry spokesman said helicopters sent to the scene had
seen fragments of the plane on the surface of the sea.

"The fragments were found six km (4 miles) from the shore
near the airport of Adler. The search operation continues,"
Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.

He said the plane was an Airbus 320 and had vanished from
radar screens at 2.15 am (6:15 p.m. EDT) near Sochi, a Russian
resort near the Georgian border that has been popular with top
officials since Soviet times.

Adler is the name of the region of Sochi that houses the
town's airport.

The plane was carrying at least five children, and
difficult weather conditions were complicating the search for

The ministry said the jet belonged to Armavia, the largest
airline in the former Soviet Republic of Armenia, which has
three Airbus 320s of the kind that crashed.

Armavia was not available for comment, and its Web site did
not show any details of the crash.